Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Daisy fleabane

Daisy Fleabane, a native wildflower. Before the blossom opens, the stems arc downwards. Once open, the stems become straight. An interesting way of being. Why? I have only guesses - to protect the pollen and nectar, perhaps. The rays (white petal-like structures) are very thin and may not protect well enough.

Now that it's plant season, it's herbicide season. Every year I admire the daisy fleabane that grows alongside the road on my commute to work. Every year it is herbicided by the homeowner. I can't believe that some people would rather have a dirt patch than daisy fleabane. 

Next the beautiful sedges that grow in the roadside ditches will be mowed. 


Monday, May 27, 2013

Dream training


Last night, I dreamed that my son was hurt, but can't recall the dream's contents. Upon falling asleep, I dreamed again that my son was badly hurt. I looked into his eyes, swirling with blue, his pupils were pinpoints.

And so, in partial awakeness, I gazed at my son's dreamtime eyes and felt terror rise. What will I do, what will I do? Hospital? Call our physician? In partial dreamtime, I pushed down the fear. I would not let the dream end until I gave him Aconitum and Arnica.

I woke with chills. My arm was asleep and my son by my side.

I read recently in Native Healer: Initiation into an Ancient Art by Medicine Grizzlybear Lake that traditional shamans learn dream training. Because in their dreams they receive guidance, information, and visions; visions that may need to be altered. Outcomes can be altered.

As a young girl I had a recurring dream of walking down a rural road accompanied by another young girl. I recognized the road - it was one that a friend lived on. At the bottom of the hill sat a large, old farmhouse, where a young boy had drowned in the farm pond, my friend had told me. The pond sat, dark, by the road.

In the dream, I knew this brown-haired girl had bad plans for me, but we walked on, and I could not stop my legs from moving down the sloping road. Left and right, left and right, we walked side by side. I always woke before anything of physical consequence occurred. Simply, my terror mounted.

On night I had this dream, and I decided to turn on the girl. I jumped on her, pounded her head, but she walked on. I floated along beside her. On one night I never had the dream again.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Flying Momma


"Oh, Momma can do anything. Today you were flying airplanes and driving trucks," my mother reports on what "I" was doing while at work while she and my son played.

My son has a set of family figurines, and the mother looks a lot like me. She has long reddish ponytail. Apparently, the momma figurine is busy and adept.

I like that my toddler thinks I can drive a bulldozer and use tools. In reality, my husband can drive a 'dozer, but I can use tools.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Happy birthday, you're normal

Mother and son believe safety comes first. Winding around our tiny, less than 900 square foot house, everything feels normal, and then again, sometimes I wonder. Mostly, we're fine. 

One afternoon I glanced at my bed and was shocked. There laid a sleeping baby. Moving around my house, solitary and silent, I had temporarily forgotten that I had given birth several weeks before.

There he was.

Tonight, on my own birthday, around two and a half years after giving birth to my son, I sat in the backseat with that same child. As he slept, I was surprised to see that the backs of his knees reached the edge of the seat. They were no longer too short and forced straight. When did this happen?

Reaching the very final years of my thirties, I've slowed down, but he's different every day, every moment sometimes.

As his body grows, he is putting together words. We talk more. It's pleasant.

"Get out." [of the shower]

"Sit on it."[a chair]

"Dump truck."

"Garbage truck."

When we spend time with other children, I notice how he is different from them. Other children his age speak in full sentences. Some are less talkative. Some are taller, rounder, shorter. Some are more gregarious, some more shy. Some are wilder, some are more subdued. Some play quietly, others loudly. Certainly, they, too, change moment to moment.

It's difficult to not compare. It's helpful to compare, and other times it's not. I try to observe, consider, and then let go. Are we happy? Are we growing? Are we curious and vibrant? If we answer 'yes' on most or at least on many days, we're ok.


Congratulations, this bundle is yours, to have and to hold, from this day forth, for better, for worse, in sickness and in health, until...

Friday, May 17, 2013

Walks of the past few years

'round about this date in 2009:

A walk in the woods in the Sourlands

In 2010:




A walk in the woods in the Catskills

In 2011:










A walk around the Sourlands

In 2012:

A tiptoe around the house

In 2013:




A solitary stroll to the garden

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

 Easter's ok because it is fun for my son, thanks to my parents who set up an egg hunt at their house.

Holidays. I don't really enjoy them. It's a specific day dedicated to a specific idea or person, and often involves driving and/or purchasing a gift.

I received no gifts today.

I received mother's day wishes from my husband upon waking this morning, and from father-in-law and grandmother-in-law via answering machine. I called my mother, and we wished each other a happy day.

I declared this weekend a no work weekend. No email. No commitments. No anxiety over our fledgling business. A visit from a friend on Friday night allowed me to do this. At dinnertime, she came bearing raw asparagus and filet mignon, brie, peanuts, bread, wine, and ice cream to celebrate our business opening. After one glass of wine for myself, my shoulders relaxed. My son, husband, friend, and I happily ate beef we cooked in the toaster oven. (Regular oven still broken).

Saturday morning - awake at 5:45 a.m. After breakfast, my husband and son used a dremel tool on a terra cotta pot. "Want to make a toad house, Beren?"my husband asked our son. Thinking they'd be occupied for awhile, I brought a couple flats of vegetable seedlings to the garden. I planted tomatoes and other seedlings (patchy frost predicted for Monday night - I'll toss buckets over the seedlings, which have two sets of tiny true leaves each). I hadn't enough hands to carry tools or water. I was thirsty as I grubbed at the earth. Soil was packed under my nails.

My husband pumped up the flat tires on the wheelbarrow. I fixed a broken drawer. It felt so good.

In late morning, we went to the May Fair at the Waldorf School. When the announcer introduced the seventh grade girls a capella group, I did some quick math - five years ago, I worked at the school as a second grade classroom assistant. These singers would have been in my class. Tears came to my eyes, and I buried my nose into my son's hair. "It will go so fast," I whispered to my husband.

We met a friend and her daughter. They played on the seesaws. My son handed her a dandelion. We ate "Naked" brand pizza and Indian food. We watched a portly man wag his finger at two children who dueled with wooden swords. "There's no fighting here," he said. I wondered if there was a better way to say this. We played in the sand pits and playhouses. We watched the children dance, skip and sing as they wove bright ribbons around the May pole. Children being children.

We met my brother, mother, and father in Flemington for dinner. "Could we sit away form the t.v.'s?" my husband asked the hostess of the chain eatery.

I hardly see my brother. We ate together, and I wished we could spend more time.

We went to Walmart to pick up a couple items (word on the street from farmer acquaintances is that Walmart is the best deal on pop up tents for outdoor vending. Ok, ok, that's work related, but there would be no other time to go there this week. Plus, we rolled over to the toy section to look for a giant Tonka truck our son enjoyed playing with at a friend's house. Beren has not had a new toy infusion for quite a while - a birthday around the major gift-giving holidays makes the rest of the year a toy and clothes drought. While I wandered the toy section, my son told my husband, "Nuff." As in, enough, I am done with this place. Good kid.). We saw a friend in the parking lot - no one else drives a black high rise Jeep with a "Gut deer?" sticker. Not in Hunterdon county, anyway.

Sunday, another early morning. After breakfast, to the garden again. A walk in the woods.

I kept true - no work, no anxiety - up until this evening. My husband and I sat on the couch watching our over-tired two and a half year old son. He turned over baskets of plastic animal figurines, clambered up the armchair and down and up and down, and then pulled sheets from the drawers. My husband turned to me and said, "Basically, I am waiting for him to go to sleep. Might as well be only one of us watching this scene. Go outside. Take some times for yourself. Come back whenever."
Outside, the wind blew threw my Crocs and grey polyester secondhand sale sweater. I wandered over to the hoophouse - some sunflowers were blown over. Some of the plants seemed so little. Wind roared through the shadecloth stretched over the metal pipe frame that protects our woodland stock from the sun's direct light. It's been a cold, dry spring.

From the greenhouse, I wandered to the garden. Rows of onions, tomato, cucumbers and squash seedlings just transplanted on Saturday seemed vigorous. I picked lemon balm and catnip which were partially buried under the foliage of cutleaf coneflower, Joe Pye, and a couple native mints. I breathed in the catnip - I needed a nervous system tonic. Sunday night blues...

It was such a nice weekend. I'm sorry it's over. I received no gifts wrapped in ribbon or paper. Thank you.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Growth Spurts and Natural Events

Is it just us? Will other parents comment on this one:

My son is timed to the natural calendar, to natural events -

The day of Hurricane Sandy he stopped napping, except in the rarest instances.
The canopy leafed out and he just finished a big growth spurt.

I could think of others, but it is 11:17 p.m. and I have to work tomorrow.


Sunlit child emerged from the forest. All the trees leafed out. Spring happened up in the canopy.


My husband and I alternated walking side by side and single file as the narrow trail allowed. Our son ran ahead. His feet, protected only by socks, easily handled the path's contours. His tousled hair caught the sunlight, a two and a half year old sun of the earth. He was all light and light, having emerged like golden bird from his growth spurt.

We paid for our son's newest achievements, which I soon will describe, with sleepless nights, early risings, late bedtimes, hunger pangs, pickiness, bad tempers, unhappiness, tears, stubbornness, fidgetiness, upsy downsy. Everything, anything you can imagine. When we were a couple days into it, my husband and I agreed, "Growth spurt." "This is awful. My nervous system needs a vacation," I continued. But, I forget sometimes. It feels like it will never end.

Mid-growth spurt, I wonder, "Is this my child? So irritable, so needy? I'm so irritable, so needy." My husband and I make big plans, desperate plans. Night weaning. His own room. Yet, I know he will look for me, "Momma?" When the sun rises, my husband and I take turns taking breaks. I blow my top. feel guilty. I feel entitled. I yell. I apologize. We talk. I console. We read books. I do elaborate things to pass the time, and am upset when they fail or end in tears.

And so, trailing behind my sunlit child, his hair a white candle against the green earth, I watch him move with joy. This is my child, but so is the fiery whip for whom I brewed teas of catnip and lemon balm, whose sippy cup I spiked with skullcap tincture, whose demands drove me from the room, counting, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10... tears in my eyes, hands clenched.

We stopped at this trail because a couple miles back our son said, "Off, off," as he tugged at his pants. "Do you have to pee?" my husband asked. "Mmm, hmm," was the reply. "Can you wait? Can you hold it?" We turned down a quieter road. Driving fast, we passed a perfect gravel pull off and found nothing but a narrow shoulder and roadside ditches. At last, we came to a parking lot for a hiking trail. Our son happily blessed the parking lot.

I felt like a real adult, a real parent. I think about my parents pulling off the road to let my brother pee. The phrase "full circle" is usually used for events more, well, event-like, but I felt as though I was my own parents.

Our son runs on and on and arrive at a pond. We see a little heron escapes into the nearby forest. We watch planes fly low overhead. A trio of turtles climb onto a partially submerged tire in the center of the pond. One tiny, two larger. "Momma, Momma," he calls them. A great blue heron flies over, a red-tailed hawk is chased by crows, a turkey vulture on drunken wings loops by. A towhee calls from a crabapple. On the trail back, a rabbit jumps into the thicket. At our feet, wild strawberries bloom. We pull garlic mustard for dinner and cleavers for tea.

And what is new?
A potty "trained" child - my son is untrainable. He does it his way, himself, with guidance from the adults around him.

"Mouse's house" - Stringing two words together. He describes the block house he's built and who it belongs to.
Walking up the stairs, alternating feet.
Pulling on his pants, as though he's done it his whole life.
Increased consciousness of needs, "Food" "Water"
And, all the trees leafed out. Spring happened up in the canopy.

I wish I remembered when he went through the growth spurt that brought about imagination. That's a growth spurt or two back now. That was amazing to see.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A five chocolate chip kind of day

April 19 - no leaves on the trees yet. A much more fun day than today also.

Growth spurts are hell. Infant growth spurts are the 9th degree of hell. Toddler growth spurts are the 8th. Sleep patterns are infantile. Listening skills are poor. Moods are volatile. At least, you can talk about it with your child:

My son tosses rocks around the driveway. His favorite puddles (potholes) were filled with rock and gravel and then packed with mud about a month ago. He's still raw over it. "Are you sad that your puddles are filled up?" "Mmm hmm," my son replies. Toss. Toss. Stomp.

"Nummies,"he requests.

"There's nowhere to sit here. Let's find a rock, and then we'll nurse."

We pass roses, barberry, and poison ivy. We find our rock and sit. My son is about to become distracted, but I offer to nurse anyway. I hardly have any milk because he's been nursing frequently the past few days, or perhaps you can think of it like this - I have a ton of milk, but he's drinking it all - fast.    He's growing, he's cranky, and nursing makes him feel better.

I look down at him. "So, you're sad today. A little mad. And grumpy, too. Somedays are not bad, they're just not quite right." My son nods. "Maybe it hurts a little here. Or here." I rub his chest and then his belly. "Not because you're sick, but because things are just not quite right." He nods again.

This was probably one of my best moments today. I did ok today, but not quite right. Not quite Super Mom, not quite mothering.com. But, I was pretty damn good, considering how my limits were tested. I feel fragile, vulnerable, teary. Any little thing throws me off.

We continue our walk. He climbs fallen trees like a daredevil, ignoring my guidance, kicking when I pulled him from the giant oak resting six feet off the ground. "If you can't listen, then I will take you down."

He snaps some twigs that block his hardwood balance beam. "Beesh." [beech]. "That's birch. You can chew on the twigs. Beech, you can eat the nuts. Birch twigs. Beech nuts." We both took long branch and chew. "Chew, don't eat," I advise.

We amble back home, and my son is still agitated. He's inclined to wander off. "Want some chocolate?" I ask. He snaps to attention. "Yes." "OK, let's go inside then." I hand out my bribe, my sweet, chocolately wheel-greaser. "One chip for each hand."

I take a few drops of Rescue Remedy and then a dropperful of a nervine tonic I made up. We prepare dinner. My son climbs the back of the chair and puts a foot on the counter. "Children may not climb chairs. Ladders are for climbing. Climbing is for outside." He climbs again.

He grabs the potato peeler and imitates my gestures except his motions are a little jerky and he pushes the peeler towards his fingers. "Pull the peeler, like this." It is easier to describe the correct way to do the task than to take the peeler away.

The preheating oven has not preheated. It is broken. "The oven is broken, Beren." "Fox," he says. "Yes, we need Fixit Fox to come with his tools." We flip the circuit breaker in the basement. Didn't help.

Our two trays of oiled potatoes sit on the counter. I boil the white potatoes. The sweets sat, and still do, on the counter. I draw a bath for Beren, and I shower above him. As I dry myself off, my husband arrives. "How about a shower?" I ask him. "I'll get dinner on the table."

At dinner, Beren blindly jams chunks of venison into his mouth. He delicately gnaws on broccoli, typically a favored food. "No. Not," he says and puts the broccoli down. He reaches for Jared's venison. I serve myself another heap of mashed potatoes and gobble them.

After dinner, I slip out of the house and up to the garden. I weed the strawberries, for my son, of course. He loves them. I leave my husband to read bedtimes stories and put pajamas on him.

Cars drive down the lane as I pull clumps of grass. I hope no one would stop to wave hello. I duck behind some shrubs. I just want to yank weeds and harvest lettuce. I don't want to smile or chat. I find two plants that made me very pleased - my wild lupine and rattlesnake master. Rulers of savannah and prairie.

Now my son has been asleep for a couple hours. My head feels a little achy, so does my heart. I call my Mom, cry a little on the phone. "You wonder some days, 'Do I like this little person?' You love them," she says, "But sometimes you don't like they way they act." "Yeah, we had that conversation today," I say. "It won't be the last," she says with a gentle laugh.